Sunday, February 17, 2013

American priest applying for indefinite visa fined for working illegally

A Protestant church in the southeastern province ofDiyarbakır has been fined after authorities determined that its priest had been working illegally when he applied for an indefinite visa despite having already served the parish for 10 years, daily Habertürk reported Feb. 16. 
Jeremiah Ian Mattix has been living in Turkey with a tourist visa since 2003 and requested an indefinite visa because he is a religious functionary, according to the report. 

Following his application, police officers determined that he was presiding over services, as well as teaching for the church. Based on police officers’ complaints, inspectors from the Turkish Labor Institution (İŞKUR) came to Diyarbakır to assess Mattix’s case. 

The church was ultimately fined 6,795 Turkish Liras ($3,850) while Mattix was fined 670 liras ($380) for working illegally.

Ahmet Güvener, president of the association of Diyarbakır’s Protestant Church, objected to the decision, saying the church was in a difficult economic situation. 

“As there isn’t a priest to educate our community in the Christian faith, the Protestant Church in the United States has voluntarily appointed Mattix. We don’t pay any salary to Mattix who is one of the executives of our association,” Güvener told Habertürk, adding that Mattix should be designated a religious functionary, just as imams working inEurope are.

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